Or at least that seems to be the message of this bizarre little screed at First Things — which sometimes at least appears to be a serious intellectual magazine — by David Goldman. It’s just a weird mishmash of his frustration at seeing the Pope held responsible for his own behavior and his hatred of Barack Obama, with absolutely nothing to connect the two other than his own delusions.
The Obamalyptic mood in the White House seems to have infected the cultural left generally. Thirty-year-old news is dragged daily into the headlines to make it appear that some dreadful truth has been dragged out of the Vatican vaults, demonstrating Pope Benedict XVI’s culpability in child abuse. It is hard to avoid the impression that the nihilists have a sense of empowerment as never before.
There’s something ugly in the air. The two central institutions of the West are the Throne of St. Peter and the Oval Office. That is not an exaggeration, for the Catholic model in Europe and the American model are the two modes of life that the West has developed. When Catholic universal empire failed with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, and was buried by Napoleon, the United States emerged as an alternative model; the non-ethnic nation founded on Christian principles albeit without an explicit tie to a particular Christian confession.
For the first time in history the barbarians have breached the citadel; to have Barack Obama in the White House is the cultural equivalent of electing Madonna to the papacy. America, the source of a civil religion that held together the world’s only remaining superpower, is committed to its own self-demolition. Nihilists around the world are in a triumphant mood and believe that it is time to mop up the remnants of their enemies everywhere.
What the hell is he talking about? The direct actions of the Pope in protecting pedophiles from justice and facilitating their abuse may have taken place decades ago, but revelations of those facts are new and quite significant. And it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Obama.
Nor does it have anything to do with nihilism. This is standard issue religious stupidity, the presumption that anything that makes them look bad must be nihilistic. But nihilism means belief in nothing, while the accusations against the Pope are based upon the obvious belief that child abuse is wrong and so is protecting the child abuser from punishment.